‘Not too late to come forward,’ Vancouver police tell PNE rioters

Click to play video: 'VPD comb through dozens of PNE riot videos'
VPD comb through dozens of PNE riot videos
WATCH: Vancouver police say it's not too late for people involved in the PNE riot to turn themselves in. – Sep 27, 2022

Vancouver police say it is not too late for people involved in a music festival riot at the PNE this month to turn themselves in, as they begin to comb through video evidence.

Sgt. Steve Addison said police have already received “dozens” of videos of violence and property destruction that flared up on Sept. 18, after BREAKOUT Festival headliner Lil Baby cancelled his show at the last minute, citing health reasons.

Click to play video: 'VPD chief promises to bring PNE riot suspects to justice'
VPD chief promises to bring PNE riot suspects to justice

Read more: ‘We are going to come knocking’: Vancouver police chief vows to hold PNE rioters accountable

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“If you’re involved in this its not too late to come forward,” Addison said Tuesday.

“If they’ve done something they’re not proud of, if they want to be accountable, they can come forward now — or we can go through the process of identifying them.”

Seven people were arrested at the scene the night of the riot, as angry fans toppled tables and tents, overturned food kiosks and fridges and brawled. PNE management has said most fans left peacefully, but about 1,000 remained and engaged in the mayhem.

Click to play video: 'Rioters cause hundreds of thousands in damages after cancelled PNE concert'
Rioters cause hundreds of thousands in damages after cancelled PNE concert

Police have put together a special investigative team to probe the riot, and Addison said they have collected “dozens” of videos so far, ranging from CCTV to social media to material submitted through a new evidence collection portal.

He said the team has made progress, but police expect this to be a long investigation.

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“It’s one thing to identify a suspect or to confirm an identity of a suspect,” he said.

“We want to have very solid cases, so we will engage with Crown counsel, we will build very solid cases, ultimately with the goal — like in 2011 with the (Stanley Cup) riot — to obtain guilty pleas.”

Read more: Vancouver police want your photos and videos from the Breakout Festival riot

Investigators will be making use of technology and expertise they gained in the aftermath of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot that saw angry Canucks fans damage and loot downtown Vancouver to the tune of $3.7 million.

Police made extensive use of video and social media evidence after the riot, leading to eventual charges against 300 people, 284 of whom pleaded guilty and nine of whom were convicted at trial.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Police launch dedicated Breakout Festival riot investigation team'
Vancouver Police launch dedicated Breakout Festival riot investigation team

Experts say modern smartphone cameras are much clearer than those of 2011, meaning police will have an easier time identifying suspects.

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Addison said the size of the riot is also much smaller, meaning police have not had to call in outside assistance to comb through the material.

Read more: PNE stands behind its ‘very good security plan’ for Vancouver concert that ended in riot

“I would imagine there are some nervous people out there, a lot of people who committed acts of violence, acts of vandalism have been recorded on video,” Addison said.

“Their images are already out there. They know people, they’ll have friends, maybe they’ll have enemies who know who they are, and we’re fully expecting people will come forward and identify them.”

Whether or not a suspect coming forward on their own would lead to potentially reduced consequences would be a decision for Crown prosecutors, he added.

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